Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Author Interview: J.P. O'Donnell (author of Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes)

Today is Day 2 of my Author Spotlight week and today the spotlight is on mystery/suspense author, J.P. O'Donnell.  J.P. is the author of two books in the Gallagher series, Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes.  Both books are excellent and I have reviewed them on my blog.  If you like suspense and great characters I suggest you check these books out. 
I present to you, my interview with author J.P. O'Donnell.

  1. Without giving anything away, what is Fatal Gamble about?

Fatal Gamble is a mystery/thriller about a group of doctors that forms a partnership to build a medical office building in a small town in Massachusetts.  Twenty years later, one by one, they are mysteriously murdered.  The widow of one of the slain doctors knows a clue, but she’s afraid to tell the police.  She hires a Boston private investigator, Daniel Cormac Gallagher, Jr., to help track down the murderer.  But as Gallagher begins to unravel the mystery, he finds himself entangled in a web of danger and political intrigue.  As the stakes grow higher, he faces deadly threats to keep him quiet before he reveals the damaging truth.

  1. How about Deadly Codes?

Deadly Codes: A Gallagher Novel is also mystery/thriller and is my second book in the Gallagher series. In Deadly Codes, Gallagher is hired to investigate the death of a woman tragically killed in a car bombing in her own driveway.  I was inspired to write it for two reasons: first of all, the response of readers to my first Gallagher book, Fatal Gamble, was very positive, as evidenced by the book’s selection as Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice by my publisher, iUniverse.  I received many letters and emails from readers who wanted more of Gallagher.  Secondly, several agents who liked Fatal Gamble told me I had to prove I was a writer by writing a second novel.  Thus, it seemed fitting for me to use Gallagher as the protagonist upon whom to base my next venture into the genre of mystery fiction.

  1. Can your Gallagher books be read as stand alone books or do you feel they need to be read as a series?

Although Deadly Codes is the sequel to Fatal Gamble, there is enough back story provided that it can be read as a stand alone book.   Most readers, however, have read Fatal Gamble first.

  1. How much research did you do to write your Gallagher novels?

I guess the simple answer is “tons of research.”   I had never ventured into the genre of mystery fiction prior to writing Fatal Gamble.  Here I was writing about a private detective who carries a gun and has it use it on occasion.  The story also has its share of “bad guys” who aren’t timid about using their weapons.  I have never owned or fired a gun, so I had to do research to learn all about them.  I also had to learn about ballistics tests and police procedures.  Gallagher’s travels take him from Boston to New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, DC and Florida.  Other characters and scenes are based in Las Vegas.  So I had to research these locations, almost as a travel agent, in order to construct scenes that accurately depicted these areas.  Fortunately, the internet is a great source of information to supplement books I obtained from the library.  I also had several excellent technical advisors who offered great insight into weapons and police protocol. Something I learned along the way:  Even though it’s fiction and you think you can just “make it all up,” scenes have to based on accuracy or else the reader quickly becomes distracted from your storyline. 

  1. Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

Before I start writing I have a general idea of the plot and basic story.  I know where I want the story to begin and how it should end.  For both Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes, I wrote the first chapters and then the last chapters.  Then I just “connected the dots” and let the story develop so I could reach the end point.  Along the way, my characters came to life, and I let my imagination take over to develop their personalities and idiosyncrasies.  It was so much fun that I couldn’t wait to get to my computer every night to see what would happen!

  1. On your website it says you have always enjoyed writing, but most of it was confined to your professional career as a pediatric dentist.  How did you make the jump from writing scientific papers to fictional mysteries?

I have done a lot of writing in my professional career as a pediatric dentist and as a faculty member at Tufts University.  Most of this writing included articles in dental journals on subjects such as pediatric oral pathology, clinical studies on sealants, and the field of special needs dentistry.  I wrote an article on the management of pediatric dental trauma in a Special Issue of the Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society, and the International College of Dentists recognized that journal with the Golden Pen award.  It was so satisfying to have someone say I was a good writer.  This award inspired me to keep writing and eventually venture into a new genre—mystery fiction.

  1. Are you still involved in your pediatric dentistry career and teaching?

Yes, I practice pediatric dentistry on a part-time basis and continue to be a faculty member (Associate Clinical Professor) at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.  I love writing, but I also thoroughly enjoy taking care of children in my practice and teaching other dentists how to do clinical procedures for their pediatric patients.  I guess I’m fortunate to be able to blend two such different careers into a busy schedule and have so much fun doing it.

  1. What is your favorite room in the house?

That would have to be my study where I do my writing.  It’s downstairs in our finished basement.  I have it set up with all of my reference books, my computer, scanner and printer.   It’s the only place where I can write, and I spend most of my nights there when I get home from the office.

  1. What is your favorite snack food?

That’s easy … ice cream.  I love ice cream and never get tired of it.  Gallagher, by the way, is also an ice-cream lover.   Gee, I wonder how that happened.

  1. What is your favorite season?

Summer.  It’s great to be outdoors and play golf.  My wife and I have a second home in Vermont and spend most of our summer weekends there.

  1. Do you get time to read?  What are your favorite types of books to read?

Naturally, I love mystery/thrillers.   Some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Tess Gerritsen, and Michael Palmer.  I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and thought it was a great read.   But the best book I’ve read in recent years is Pillars of the Earth.  Now that is an epic, historical fiction classic!

Crystal:  Interesting, my husband would agree with you - someone suggested Pillars of the Earth to him and he read it in just a few days (he barely slept) and loved it.  Now he wants me to read it. I have it on my Kindle and now with two recommendations I'll have to read it. 

  1. How did you react when your first book was published?

It was a thrill to see that manuscript turned into a book with a real cover. On a scale of one to ten, it was easily a twelve.  I celebrated with … what else? … a hot fudge sundae.  In addition to the hard cover and paperback versions, Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes are also available on Amazon Kindle or as free audiobooks at www.podiobooks.com

Crystal:  There is nothing better than a hot fudge sundae so that is a great way to celebrate! 

  1. What are you working on now?  Another Gallagher book?  Anything else?

This past year has been very exciting.  Deadly Codes attracted the interest of an actor and a director in Hollywood who liked the story.  I worked with a screenwriter for four months to complete the adaptation of my novel to a screenplay.  It is now in the hands of a line producer who is calculating the budget for a movie.   Hopefully, Gallagher will find his way to the silver screen.  I’m also beginning the third book in the Gallagher series.  In this book, Kate vanishes and Gallagher discovers a dark secret from her past.  Stay tuned.

For more information about JP O’Donnell and his books, please visit www.jpodonnell.com 

Thank you J.P. O'Donnell for allowing me to interview you and I eagerly await seeing Gallagher on the silver screen and wish you all the luck with that!

Please check out his website mentioned above and click on the titles and see my reviews of Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes.

Tomorrow I will be hosting J.P. O'Donnell again with a guest post.


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